Author: Travis Northern
Title: Sabotage (Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare)
Developers: Infinity Ward
Release Date: 01/31/2017
Platform Reviewed: PlayStation 4
Time Played: 8 hours
Last week, the controversial Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare (check out our full review here) released its first DLC map pack, Sabotage. As per usual, the map pack comes with four maps and one zombies challenge, all for the cost of $15. Is this first DLC worth its price tag? Here’s our review.
Dominion (AKA Afghan Remastered):
Oh, nostalgia. I remember spending countless hours running around on this map and virtually shotgunning my cousins to death back in 2009’s Modern Warfare 2. Afghan is back with a new name, new reskin, and new agenda. Dominion is one of the stronger maps Infinite Warfare offers because it blends the beloved original design with the remastered look and feel of the future. While the original map took place in a middle-eastern desert, this edition takes place on a Martian colony, complete with pale red sand, dust, and rock formations that give it an otherworldly environment. The strategic setup of the map has been updated as well; the outside walkway now leads to a wall-run flanking path, and the ruins of the plane can now be scaled all the way up to the top of the towering cliff. All in all, it’s everything a great remaster is supposed to be. Of the four new maps, Dominion has the highest replay value and the biggest supply of charm. Unfortunately, the other maps of Sabotage fall short.
Noir is a grimy inner-city environment full of neon displays, huge billboards, and layered complexes ranging between pharmacies and dance clubs. The aesthetic is dazzling, enchanting players with a dense whirlwind of visual information that can distract them from spotting their sneakier opponents, and the tactical layout is surprisingly deliberate. The design is a dense cluster of alleyways—in which close-quarters combat is encouraged—surrounded by a perimeter of advantageous sniping positions. Combat taking place within buildings’ interiors requires a fair amount of memorization and attention to detail. If a player knows about a secret escape window or a shady staircase, they can loop around the room and kill you before you even notice them. Its execution is clever, but unfortunately, its foundation is familiar and hollow.
The biggest drawback to this map is that it takes place in yet another generic city. City maps are worn-out and uncreative, utilizing the same template over and over again. Call of Duty players have been fighting in cities since the origin of the series, and the most memorable and engaging maps are the ones taking place outside of these uniform settings. Take Afghan for example: the reason Afghan was so inventive in Modern Warfare 2 was because it forced competitors to engage in a foreign environment. What does this crashed plane offer for cover? Could snipers be hiding on the cliff? Can I defend this cave as a base? Having players fight in unique environments where they must discover their tactics by traversing foreign land is the best way to create a memorable experience. Firing Range. Terminal. Rust. Makin. Hijacked. Dome. These legendary maps endure in our memories because they challenged us in this way. City maps are missing this inventiveness, and this is why they most likely won’t be remembered in the years to come. Setting aside this issue, I like Noir. Its visual glory and thought-out setup compensate for its unexceptional foundation. However, the same can’t be said about the last two maps.
Renaissance takes place in a reimagined Venice, where players will battle over rustic statues, cobblestone streets, and elegant churches in a historic battleground. It’s deceptively wide open; it slips in a few tight alleys and passages, but almost every objective area or heat point is completely exposed, slowing Domination and Defender games to a drag. Even Team Deathmatches are infuriating because you can’t escape the spawn without getting blasted from 30 yards away. And the worst part of it all? You’re playing on another uninventive city map. In my opinion, the only salvageable value from this map comes from its classical theme, which I think would’ve been much better spent in a massive cathedral or a water-centric canal, or really any location that varies a little from the same old build.
Upon its announcement, I was excited for Neon. The developers made it sound like a tactical wonderland, describing a digital map that generated pixelated constructs and pitfalls throughout the matches. Despite an inspired premise, it ended up being a huge disappointment. There’s a single gaping pit one can fall into, the outside of the map has a digital theme, and deceased players explode into pixels. Nothing generates or disintegrates. It’s completely static. Perhaps it was overpromised and underdelivered. Perhaps I misunderstood the presented premise. Or perhaps it was only supposed to enchant me with its Tron-esque aesthetic, but it just feels tiring and derivative. It does offer numerous chances to run on walls and sneak up on objectives, but so do many of the maps in the base game. And on top of that disappointment, it’s—you can guess where I’m going with this—yet another standard-issue city map. That’s right. Of the four maps in Sabotage, three of them have matching layout foundations. This roster is serviceable but bland, and I hope that future multiplayer maps enhance the formula and bring something new to the table.
Rave in the Redwoods:
Much like the main game, the Sabotage Zombies mode largely outshines the multiplayer. While Zombies in Spaceland took place in the colorful 80s, Rave in the Redwoods takes place in the grounded 90s, and the dedication and love carries over in droves. The players ditch animal print for plaid, and hip hop and hair metal make way for moody rap and jaded grunge. The setting is a foggy summer camp where zombies have crashed the party, and now the players must master an all-new environment before their time runs out. The entire idea jumps straight out of an old slasher flick, and the execution excels on every level.
I can definitively state that this is the zombies experience I’ve always wanted. By scattering guns further apart and cutting down on cheap exploits, the overall difficulty is heightened. Zombies pose a real threat in the dreadful environment, and the map’s overall haunting tone invokes your inner survival instincts. With these elements, it’s reminiscent of World at War’s battles against the horde. It visually resembles Shi No Numa with its log cabins and woodsy surroundings, but it plays like Verrückt. Upon spawn, players must use cheap melee tools until they reach a weapon of quality. Claustrophobic pathways stifle the players, forcing them flee the horde by exploring new areas. The power switch is hidden away in the far reaches of the map, and finding it unlocks a vast array of secrets. All of these alterations harken back to old designs and make for thrilling matches as a result. Everything feels less robust, less cheap, and less repetitive than Zombies in Spaceland. It has the main quality that made many of us fall in love with zombies mode in the first place: substance.
While there aren’t quite as many laughs as there were in the first zombies map, there are still plenty of fun quirks to discover throughout the camp. This map is still ripe with self-aware humor and satirical Easter eggs. One minute you’re fleeing a psychotic chainsaw killer while under the influence of psychedelic drugs, and the next minute you’re swinging a golf club at an undead sasquatch. Plus, 90s slang makes everything better. Radical, am I right?
So, is Sabotage worth its $15 price point? Yes and no. If you’re an enthusiast for great zombies maps without even a slight care for multiplayer, then you’ll be satisfied with this DLC. If you’re planning to join in on the Multiplayer action, just be aware that you’re dropping the money for one great remastered map, one tolerable map, and two disappointing maps. For many Call of Duty fans, purchasing Sabotage solely for its multiplayer maps is a surefire road to buyer’s remorse.